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I'm hoping to come out pretty soon to my Duke community. Can I hear some of your stories about coming out to friends here? Was it pretty nonchalant or did you use the opportunity to foster some discussion about the topic?
Before coming to college, I made a pledge to myself that I’d be open, that I’d be honest. I wouldn’t hide like I did in high school. I’d be true to how I was feeling. Things would change. Things would be different. And they did. A few months into freshman year, I came out to my roommates and received nothing but support. To them, who I liked, boys, girls, it made no difference. And for all the support they gave, me, I couldn’t be more grateful. But as I come to the end of my junior year, I’m beginning to realize that college does, in fact, end, that things do, in fact, change. I’m realizing that this bubble, this pocket of liberal ideas and boundless inclusion, this world that I have been able to carefully construct for myself…it’s not eternal. Outside of my little Duke snow globe, things are different. I’ve never told anyone outside of college about my sexuality. I never came out to my parents. That’s not to say I think they’re oblivious. They know I’ve never had a girlfriend. I never even pretended to. But it’s still something we all know not to mention, because the moment someone were to, everything would change and this secret that I’ve kept so beautifully secluded in my fantasy college universe would enter into the real world. It would enter into a place where there is shame, where there’s blame, where there’s homophobia, where there’s discrimination and where there aren’t LGBT meetings one afternoon a week at The Center. In that moment, things would change. My dad would look down at the table disappointed. My mom would cry. Life would get harder; the path would get more obscure. My friend once asked me what’s the hardest thing about being gay. Was it not being accepted? Was it finding a suitable partner? I said no, because for me, I think the answer is bigger, more fundamental. When you’re gay, there is a cruel lack of weighting, a certain lack of gravity that you’re forced to contend with. The American ideal, the white picket fence and 2.1 kids, the family dog, the PTA meetings, the bake sales, the neighbors that smile as you pass on the sidewalk, they’re all possible when you’re straight. But when you’re not, it becomes an ideal you’re forced - every day - to look at but know you will be greeted by infinite obstacles if you try to touch. I’ve had nights where I dreamed that that life could be mine, that somehow I could find my way into that social gravitational pull and feel what it’s like to be on the other side, to be within the sphere of cultural “normal”, to feel what it’s like to have a path beneath my feet. I wish I didn’t have to feel like I was always floating, looking down into a world that wasn’t made for me. Before coming to college, I made a pledge to myself that I’d be open, that I’d be honest. Well, right now, the most honest desire I have in my heart is for gravity. There will be those that will say what about love? What about freedom? Well, maybe my definition of free is different. Maybe I’ll find a nice girl, and we’ll settle down and have a kid, or two. And they’ll go to school and they’ll grow up well and they’ll go play with my parents on weekends. And my parents, they’ll be happy, and they’ll be proud. And my wife and I, we’d build a life that’s simple, and we’d love each other because we’re happy in what we built together, and we’d find freedom in the fact that we’re finally living grounded and weighted.
- Yellow Saint
Please remember that there are a number of resources available on campus and in the local community. These resources are available over breaks and throughout the school year. If you or a friend are experiencing thoughts or urges to harm yourself or somebody else, please reach out to the following resources: In an emergency, please don't hesitate to call CAPS at any time, including "after hours" at (919) 966-3820. Ask to speak to the advice nurse and tell them you are a Duke student. You may also call the Trevor Project, a national hotline specifically for lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, queer and questioning youth (college students included). Their number is 866-4-U-TREVOR (866-488-7386).